Typically, the intense emotions of the adolescent years are challenging for parents.
Understandably, they don’t know what to do with the emotional spark of the adolescent period.
Thankfully, Dr. Daniel Siegel, shows parents how to cultivate these intense emotions.
In his bestselling book, Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, he describes 4 major manifestations that are caused by the giant growth spurt of the brain during adolescence.
Second, another hallmark of the adolescent period is Emotional Spark.
- “emotions rule the day”
- also, “moodiness”
- without a doubt, “reactivity”
- “emotions rule the day”
- first, “energy”
- next, “vitality”
- also, “exuberance”
- and lastly, “zest for being alive”
To watch Dr. Siegel’s YouTube video on Emotional Spark, please click here.
Next, how do parents nurture the pros of these intense emotions?
- First, don’t take emotional outbursts personally; after all, they are not about you.
- Second, remain calm and maintain a sense of humor.
- Third, acknowledge the emotional spark; for example:
- “I can see that you’re upset about this.”
- “That sounds really hard.”
- “I can hear that you have strong feelings about this.”
During a natural pause in the conversation, ask an open-ended question; for example;
- “What would you like to do with these feelings?”
- “What do you need right now?”
- “How do you move forward from here?”
- “How would you like to respond to these feelings?”
- “Where would you like to go from here?”
- “What are you most passionate about in this moment?”
- “How are these feelings related to your values?
- “How useful would it be to come up with an action to take?”
When s/he answers, LISTEN. Don’t say anything.
- When s/he stops talking, ask, “What else?”
- Be comfortable with silence; let your child think.
- Let go of the notion that the emotions or the topic must be resolved in the moment; that is, be O.K. with the conversation ending, “incomplete.”
- In other words, give your child space and time to let the emotional spark die down.
- Lastly, trust your child’s resourcefulness, creativity, and imagination.
If your child is silent, or s/he says, “I don’t know,” try the following:
- Let go of the judgment that, “I don’t know,” is dismissive or disrespectful.
- Similarly, let go of the assessment, “S/he is refusing to think.”
- Take the case that silence is good; silence is thinking.
Consider the positive point of view: ‘I don’t know,’ is a good place to start.
That is, choose to see, “I don’t know,” as the beginning of thinking, not the end.
For a comprehensive response to silence and, “I don’t know,” read this blog post: Responding to Teens, when they say, “I don’t know.”
Whatever you do, hold the intense emotions of the adolescent years in a positive light; after all, they are nobody’s fault.
In reality, the emotional spark of the adolescent period is a manifestation of the natural, significant growth spurt of the human brain.